Mr. Speaker, $1.3 trillion is where Canada's national debt is now. It is more than double what it was a few years earlier. The Liberal government has more than doubled all the debt that every prime minister in the history of this country has ever accumulated. What has that led to? It has led to the inflationary crisis, the cost of living crisis and a whole host of other issues.
I know what my colleagues in the Liberal Party will say. They will say that they spent this money during the pandemic because they wanted to take care of Canadians. However, there is a small problem in that. It is very clear that 40% of that spending had nothing to do with the pandemic, and they cannot get out of it. This is clear and unequivocal, so they cannot say that they spent all of this money just because of that.
The “arrive can't” app is a great illustration of exactly the kind of spending this government engages in over and over again. It throws money at things without a care or concern for taxpayers. Whether the money is well spent or not, it is just going to spend.
When we look at where we are right now, the Prime Minister said very clearly many times that we took on this debt so that Canadians would not have to, and interest rates would be low for a very long time, so it is not going to affect the fiscal capacity of this country. Well, guess what. He is wrong. I know that is not a surprise, as he is wrong about a lot things. He is also wrong to not think about monetary policy.
When we talk about where Canadians are today, they have massive credit card debt. Actually, right now Canadians have $171 billion of HELOC debt. What is HELOC debt, and why does that matter? HELOC debt is a home equity line of credit, and they are at variable interest rates. Therefore, as interest rates rise, their payments rise, and the ability for Canadian families to make ends meet declines. What we end up with are all the challenges Canadians are experiencing right now, whether it is making ends meet, heating their home, or dealing with the cost of living and inflation.
The Liberal spending binge has caused untoward damage for Canadians, and there has been an other effect as interest rates have risen. The Prime Minister said, in effect, for Canadians not to worry. He said that interest rates were not going to go up, so when we borrowed all of this money, everything would be fine. There was nothing to see there.
Well, guess what. We now spend more money servicing the debt in Canada than we do on the Canada health transfer. I will let that sink in for a minute. When we hear about the issues that are going on in hospitals across the country, and we hear about it all the time, we are spending more to pay interest on the debt than we are on the Canada health transfer. That is the shameful, embarrassing legacy of this government.
Then the government does things like spend $54 million on the “arrive can't” app. Why do I say the “arrive can't” app? It is because it does not work. We know that it does not work. Ten thousand Canadians were put into quarantine wrongly, and I was one of those 10,000 Canadians. I returned home. I was vaccinated. I got my green stamp on my passport, and guess what. The phone calls started the next day telling me I was to be in quarantine.
I said, “No I am not. I am vaccinated. I have done every thing right, and I was told that I was cleared at the border.”
The phone calls kept coming. Sometimes there were 15 phone calls a day to verify that I was at home. I am a big boy. I can take it. I dealt with it. Imagine older or vulnerable Canadians going through that. They would not just say that it is nothing to worry about. They are going to be incredibly traumatized by that experience. When I talk about the “arrive can't” app, that is a great example.
If that were the end of the story, it might have been terrible but not terrible. When I finally did get in touch with someone to speak with someone, the advice was, “Don't answer the phone. We can't take you off the list. It's impossible.” We have more than double the national debt and people have been wrongly put into quarantine and the answer is, “Don't answer your phone.” The phone just keeps ringing 15 to 20 times a day.
I had the real concern that at some point they might say they have to send a police officer, because that happened as well. Imagine the waste of resources across the country as a result of police officers going to enforce quarantine orders because the “arrive can't” app could not do the one thing it was supposed to do.
They might say not to worry because it is fixed and it is all good, that the “arrive can't” app is now fine, but guess what? On Twitter just yesterday, someone we all might know, Robert Fife reported long lineups at Pearson to get through customs. The $54-million “arrive can't” app is supposed to expedite processing through customs but the officer laughed and said the app is irrelevant so not to waste time filling it out.
We have an app that does not work. We have an app that puts people into quarantine when they should not be in quarantine. We have people then subjected to dozens of phone calls, virtually harassing them to be in quarantine when they should not. It does not work and it cost $54 million. What we have heard since then very clearly is that this could have been done for $80,000. If that was the end of the story, that would be bad enough, of course, but it is not. The story just keeps going. There are contractors and subcontractors who are listed as having been paid for the app. They said, “We did not get paid. Why are we on this list?”
I cannot explain properly how terrible that is for Canadian taxpayers, Canadians who are suffering through an affordability crisis, to see the cavalier and callous spending of their hard-earned tax dollars by the Liberal government. The Liberal government does not apologize. It would be one thing if the Liberals got up and said, “We messed up. Canadians, we're sorry. We know this thing was a thousand times more expensive than it should have been. We've learned our lesson. We're going to fix it,” but they do not. Liberals just ask us, “What is wrong with you? How dare you criticize this. This app was designed to save Canadians. You did not want to save Canadians.” The kind of hyperbole the Liberals are engaging in quite frankly is shameful. They should be apologizing to Canadians for this absolute debacle. Of course, we know they will not.
Now we get to the gist of this motion, which is to have the Auditor General come in and audit this. Let us get to the bottom of it. If the Liberals cared about Canadians, if they cared about taxpayer money, if they know they did not do anything wrong, they would say, “Fantastic. Let us have the Auditor General come in.” We have to remember that it was the Prime Minister who said “We will be open by default.” To have the Auditor General look at this program, the Liberals will say, “We are not going to do that.”
That is an interesting definition of open by default. It is the kind of behaviour that the government has repeatedly engaged in. I ask myself and I ask Canadians who are watching today, what do the Liberals have to hide? Why are they afraid of an independent officer of Parliament coming in and looking at the books?
The Liberals say there is a committee and the committee could look at it. Sure. The Auditor General has far greater ability than the committee to analyze this. I go back to what are the Liberals afraid of. They are afraid of exactly that. The Liberals know they cannot filibuster the Auditor General. They know they cannot win votes to not have documents released at committee with the Auditor General. The Liberals know the Auditor General would get in there and find every embarrassing gaffe, every contract and subcontract that should never have been awarded, and it is going to be an absolutely awful day for the government.
The Liberals will stand up and argue all kinds of semantics, that we do not need to look at this, that they would have a committee look at it, or that we should not look at it because it was designed to save Canadians' lives and therefore it should be above scrutiny. None of this makes sense. When there is nothing to hide, the government should be open by default. That is the mantra of the Prime Minister who leads the government.
I do not understand why we are here. Why are we debating this motion? It should have passed with unanimous consent. After the Conservative leader rose to give an impassioned speech about this, with a unanimous consent motion, the Auditor General would have been looking at this, and we would have the answer in no time.
Instead, the Liberals are going to try to delay. They are going to try to find a way to win this vote in the House of Commons. Maybe they will be able to do that as part of their coalition. Maybe they will make some kind of an amendment to the costly coalition agreement, so they can survive scrutiny from the independent officer of Parliament.
Actions speak louder than words. The Liberals' actions in not just saying that we are going to have the Auditor General look into this speaks volumes about what they know the Auditor General is going to find how terribly run this program was, and how embarrassing it is going to be for the government.
Why will the Liberals not just vote in favour of it? Let us have the Auditor General look into the dirty dealings of this contract.